The Newark Bears provide second (and third, and fourth) chances

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Yesterday the New York Times noted how the organizational philosophy of the Independent League Newark Bears was to provide a place for former big leaguers to play as they try to work their way back to The Show.  Indeed, just this season the Bears have been home to Armando Benitez, Carl Everett, Shawn Chacon, Jacque Jones, Marlon Anderson and Keith Foulke.

It seems that this philosophy extends to their front office too:

Dwight “Doc” Gooden is back in baseball at the independent minor league level.

The Newark Bears say the former Cy Young award winner, who pitched for the New York Yankees and New York Mets, will be hired as senior vice president of the Atlantic League franchise on Thursday.

Team spokesman Jesse Suskin says Gooden will serve as the Bears’ community ambassador in Newark, New Jersey’s largest city. The 44-year-old Gooden will work with youth baseball camps and leagues.

This is not merely some charity or publicity-driven job, as Gooden has worked in youth baseball in Tampa for the past several years.  Moreover, if you’re going to cultivate interest and excitement about your team and your programs in the New York/NJ area, it would be hard to find a better guy to do it than Doc Gooden.  For all of his foibles, people simply love the guy in New York.

On a more basic level, it’s good to finally hear news stories about Gooden that don’t involve trouble with the law or with substance abuse or what have you.  I hope this job works for him and I hope it keeps him in and around baseball for a long time.

Video: Jake Arrieta hits a 465-foot home run off of Zack Greinke

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Jake Arrieta‘s bat is in midseason form already. The Cubs’ ace swatted a solo home run to center field off of Zack Greinke in Thursday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition game, his first homer of the spring.

The blast went 465 feet, according to MLB.com’s Daren Willman.

Arrieta has hit two home runs in each of the past two seasons. Madison Bumgarner (eight) and Noah Syndergaard (four) are the only other pitchers to match or exceed his output in that department.

Greinke, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back after a miserable 2016 season. He finished with an uncharacteristic 4.37 ERA in 26 starts in his first year with the Diamondbacks.

Luis Valbuena to miss four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring

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Angels first baseman Luis Valbuena will miss the next four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring, Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times reports.

Valbuena, 31, signed a two-year, $15 million contract with the Angels in January and was on track to get the lion’s share of the playing time at first base. While he’s out, however, C.J. Cron will handle first base on a regular basis. When Valbeuna returns, the two will likely form a platoon.

Last year with the Astros, Valbuena hit a solid .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances.